Interview with Dennie Gordon

TV Interview!

Dennie Gordon, director of "Last Light" on Peacock

Interview with Dennie Gordon, director of “Last Light” on Peacock by Suzanne 8/30/22

I don’t often speak to directors (or writers, for that matter), so it was great to speak to this amazing woman. Her bio (below) is very impressive. I really enjoyed speaking with her. You can watch “Last Light” here!

 

MORE INFO:

Dennie Gordon, director of "Last Light" on PeacockDennie Gordon has been a trailblazing female director her entire career; spanning the worlds of feature films, television series, mini-series and branded content. Her range of genre busting entertainment spans an unusual spectrum of comedy and drama. After being one of the first women to graduate from Yale’s School of Drama with an MFA in Directing, Gordon first gained recognition when “A Hard Rain” was chosen by Showtime’s Discovery Program. Thanks to Steven Spielberg, a rough cut of her film attracted the attention of George Lucas who donated the film’s mix at Skywalker Ranch. “A Hard Rain” , which Gordon also wrote, went on to win dramatic awards at the British Short Film Festival and the Hampton’s Film Festival. This film also caught the eye of David E. Kelley who enlisted Gordon to helm multiple episodes of his television series including “Goliath”, (where she was Co EP) “Picket Fences”, “Chicago Hope”, “Ally McBeal”, and “The Practice”. Gordon has directed over 100 hours of network television including such critically acclaimed series as “Legion”, which was on many critic’s lists as a top 10 show of 2017, with the “astounding direction of Dennie Gordon and her twisted visionary imagery taking the X-Men universe to a whole new level”. Her other work includes “Bloodline”, “Rectify Empire”, “Kingdom”, “Power”, “Hell on Wheels”, “Grace & Frankie”, “The Office”, “30 Rock”, Aaron Sorkin’s “Sports Night”, and HBO’s “Tracey Takes On”, for which Gordon won the DGA Comedy Award. Gordon recently completed the mini-series “Waco”, “Jack Ryan” Season 2 and “The Hunt” starring Al Pacino. Gordon directed the comedy cult hit “Joe Dirt” starring David Spade, and Christopher Walken, and “What A Girl Wants” starring Oscar Winner Colin Firth, Dame Eileen Atkins, and Jonathan Pryce. Gordon was the first American woman to direct a film for the domestic Chinese market, called “My Lucky Star”. The 2013 film starred Oscar nominee Zhang Ziyi and Wang Leehom and was filmed in China and Singapore in the summer of 2012. “My Lucky Star” was the number one film in China for 4 weeks on 5000 screens.

Gordon is a sought after commercial director having completed campaigns for Honda, Toyota, Tsingtao beer and Xcel Energy as well as campaigns with Jimmy Fallon, Betty White, Adam Devine and Don Cheadle. She recently completed a short dramatic film for Huawei, which was shot in Prague. She is represented by CAA.

Based on Alex Scarrow’s bestselling apocalyptic thriller, LAST LIGHT will thrust audiences into a world of chaos, as the world’s oil ceases to function correctly, and all means of power & communication begin to fail. The series stars Matthew Fox (Lost), making his series acting return after 12 years alongside, Joanne Froggatt (Liar, Downton Abbey), Alyth Ross (Traces, Emerald), Taylor Fay (Judge Rinder, The Making of Alex), Amber Rose Revah (The Punisher), Victor Alli (Belfast, Grantchester), Tom Wlaschiha (Game of Thrones, Stranger Things) and Hakeem Jomah (Rashash, Kidnap). Dennie Gordon serves as Executive Producer and Director of all five episodes.

ABOUT LAST LIGHT Trailer

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 8 on Peacock

"Last Light" on Peacock key artLogline: The series is based on the novel Last Light written by Alex Scarrow, which tells the story of a family fighting to survive during the fallout of an oil crisis.

Cast:

  • Matthew Fox (Lost) will play Andy Yeats, an ex-pat living in London, and one of the world’s leading petro-chemical engineers.

  • Joanne Froggatt (Liar, Downton Abbey) will play Elena Yeats, Andy’s smart, caring, and beautiful wife. When her son, Sam, was diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative eye disease, she gave up her thriving professional career and put considerable energy and ability toward finding a cure.

  • Alyth Ross (Traces, Emerald) will play Laura Yeats, a passionate and informed university student committed to confronting the mounting crisis of climate change and finding a solution to helping the planet.

  • Taylor Fay (Judge Rinder, The Making of Alex) will play Sam Yeats. Eight-year-old Sam is fighting a degenerative eye disease that is slowing taking away his sight.

  • Amber Rose Revah (The Punisher) will play Mika Bakhash, a representative for the British government.

  • Victor Alli (Belfast, Grantchester) will play Owen Jones, a brilliant college student who has been working his way through school.

  • Tom Wlaschiha (Game of Thrones, Stranger Things) will play Karl Bergmann. Karl Bergmann works for the British Government and is the man Parliament and MI6 turn to when the world is thrown into chaos.

  • Hakeem Jomah (Rashash, Kidnap) will play Khalil Al-Qatani, the head of a big oil company.

Director: Dennie Gordon (All 5 episodes)

Executive Producers: Dennie Gordon, Matthew Fox, William Choi, Sydney Gallonde, Rikke Ennis, Patrick Renault, Diego Piasek, Patrick Massett, John Zinman

Co-Executive Producers: Rola Bauer and Steven Johnson

Producer: Veronika Lencova

Produced by: MGM International Television Productions in association with Peacock, Viaplay Group, MBC, Peacock and STAN.

Format: 5 x 45 min episodes, limited drama series.

Filming Location: Prague, Paris and Abu Dhabi

Interviews with Amber Rose Revah and Joanne Froggatt

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Dennie Gordon, director of "Last Light" on Peacock

Interview with Kelley Kali and Deon Cole

TV Interview!

Deon Cole and Kelley Kali

Interview with Kelley Kali and Deon Cole of the movie “I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) by Suzanne 7/27/21

This was a fun interview! These two are so talented and amiable. We had a great time chatting. I look forward to Kelley’s next film, too. She’s a DGA winner, and he stars in two ABC shows, along with being a hard-working standup comic.

Video of our chat!

Suzanne:   I watched it last night. I enjoyed it. I liked how you made us really feel what she was going through, how she was hot, tired, and having a bad day and worried, and all that made me anxious to watch it. I was like, “Sell the ring! Sell the ring!”

Kelley:   I know, right?

Suzanne:   “Don’t do that!” But that I’m glad the way it turned out.

Kelley:   Thank you so much for saying that.

Suzanne:   I don’t– I don’t watch a lot of independent movies, because so many of them are sad and depressing and boring, but I liked yours so much.

Kelley:   Good. Thank you. We tried to have a balance of that indie sad, depressing, but this is why Deon’s here, because he brought the funny to it.

Then, even the characters, like Brooklynn’s character, [she’s also] one of Deon’s closest friends, so, you know, he brought her along, and so he definitely was the light in the storytelling of serious social matters.

Suzanne:   Yeah. No, it was nice and positive. I like that. I’m more of a popcorn movie person. Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter.

Kelley:   Good choices.

Suzanne:   But I enjoyed it. I loved the dream sequence and what you did with that, because I’m watching going, “There’re really big holes of water there…?” and you had me. You got me.

Kelley:   The greatest parts to wake people up, and it’s a great metaphor to show that she’s drowning in so much trouble that she’s trying to get through and just to protect her daughter’s innocence.

Suzanne:   Right, and it really does grab you in the, “Oh my gosh, what’s gonna happen next, if she loses her money and the ring and all that stuff? Is she gonna drown?” So, I like that. And it really showed LA really well, too. I love that. It was almost like LA was another character in the movie.

Kelley:   It was, yeah; that city is where I grew up. It’s a suburb of LA, in San Fernando Valley, Pacoima, and so it was also just paying homage to a town that helped raise me.

And even Danny Trejo, the actor, is from that town. So, that’s why we named the character Danny. We even are featuring his mural, because he’s just one of the one of the many artists have come from that city that represent that town very well.

Suzanne:   Right. Yeah, I noticed his face on the mural. So that explains why you set it in Pacoima. I’m from San Diego, but I didn’t know. I had heard of Pacoima, but that was about it. I actually thought it was in Washington State. I’m like, “Wait, that’s LA.”

Kelley:   It was also our resource, because we were shooting during a pandemic and had to find places we could film safely, and so, I just used my hometown. My dad was a pastor there. So, I was really connected to the community. In fact, where Deon pulls up [and] his character talks to me, that’s the steps of my church, the church that I was raised in where my dad was a pastor. So, when he says, “Are you are you a pastor?” I love it. It’s one of my favorite scenes.

Suzanne:   So, how did you come up with the idea for this film?

Kelley:   So, just, it was in the middle of the pandemic, the middle of 2020, I woke up, and was like, “I’ve got to do something,” because we weren’t allowed to do anything. And one of the things that I have been noticing is that there were a lot more women on the streets here in Los Angeles. You know, we already have a large homeless population, but this increase was due to houselessnes, which was a new term that I was learning. So, it just really showed how paycheck to paycheck we are as a society, [during] this pandemic. So, a lot more people ended up in their cars or sleeping on a friend’s couch or family member’s couch, or heaven forbid, in a tent, temporarily, while they were just getting back on their feet, because maybe they do have a job and maybe the job shut down or whatever it may be.

So, I went to my writing partner, Deon Cole, and went to my girls from USC, Angelique Molina, who’s my co-director; Roma Kong is producer, and then also our other producer, Capella [Fahoome], and we came up with this concept to reflect what we were going through during 2020 and what is even more prevalent now. There’re still so many people who are houseless currently.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I can’t even imagine what it must be like there. I grew up in poverty in San Diego, and I still have plenty of relatives who are in poverty. I had actually one who, before the pandemic, was camping with her husband – no children, thankfully, but she and her husband were camping all through LA and Bakersfield where they had lived in a car, basically. So, I know how that is. So, the film did remind me of those things and make me really feel it.

So, was Danny based on a particular person that you know or just…?

Kelley:   No, no, Danny was a reflection of the women I’ve seen on the street. So, there is one story, it’s not based on her, but one thing that really triggered me was I was actually driving to get a COVID test, and I got off on the 110 [accidentally]. It’s like you exit along the side of the overpass, and I saw this beautiful black woman who just looked like she came out of a business meeting, look perfectly put together, but had her suitcase and everything. And she was dragging this chain link fence, this old fence that was kind of laying around under the freeway, and boxing herself in, because it looked like she was about to stay there for the night. And I just couldn’t believe [it]. Like she didn’t look – you know how people are like, “Well, you don’t look homeless.” A lot of people don’t look [homeless], and that’s one of the things we talk about. We want the movie to reflect it or to evoke empathy for people, to let them see it, because you don’t know people’s stories. People have this concept of others on the street being lazy or like they put themselves there, and that’s not the case of the majority of the stories.

Suzanne:   And I assume you had a certain vision for the movie before you made it. Did the finished product live up to that ideal?

Kelley:   It was better, and that just comes from a team effort. This not just from my head. It just was a team. It was Deon watching it and giving notes and catching things that I didn’t see.

And then we’d go back to the editors. We had two editors, Angelica [Lopez] and Katie [McClellan], and just the input that they gave, because, you know, when Angelique, my co-director, and I are in the grind, you’re too much in it, and you need other eyes around you, other creative eyes, to help. And I just think, as a team, it became better than I could have even imagined.

Suzanne:   That’s great. And Deon, can you tell us how your role came about? Was it just like she said; she came to you and said, “I want to put a movie together?” And you said, “Sure,” ?

Deon:   Yeah, it was just another obstacle added as far as to heighten her decision making on what she needs to do for the character and just bringing lightness to a heavy situation. Yeah, basically, that was it.

Suzanne:   And can we assume that after Danny got her apartment that she went to her friend Brooklynn and told her all about running into Chad, I hope?

Kelley:   I don’t know. Does Danny kill Brooklynn’s joy? Does she just let it ride? I’m gonna leave it up to you to decide.

Suzanne:   Honesty, I would like to see a sequel all about Brooklynn and Chad.

Kelley:   Wouldn’t that be fun?

Suzanne:   Maybe a TV series. Get your own sitcom based on that. I would like that. That was so funny, that part.

And what was the most fun thing for either or both of you about doing the movie? I know it was a lot of work, but what was fun about it?

Kelley:   For me, it was the roller skating, because I’m obsessed with roller skating. So, although I was on skates for like, ten or more hours a day, every day, I just was having a blast. And my favorite part was, I had to bomb this hill. It’s in the opening credits. You can’t even really see the grade of the incline that it is, but it is extremely steep and dangerous. And we decided just to get the drone shot and bomb it, and it scared the crap out of my co-director, Angelique, and my producers. It was just fun seeing them freak out as I’m going this hill. They talk about to this day how traumatized they were, but thank God, I made it. No little pebbles or twigs got in the way.

Suzanne:   That’s right, because you weren’t wearing a helmet? Were you wearing protection?

Kelley:   I was in a half top and biker shorts, which wasn’t going to protect a thing. So, that’s why they call that hill Devil’s Hill, because it’s one of the hardest hills to go down.

Suzanne:   I’m surprised you got the insurance to sign off on that.

Kelley:   You know, sometimes you ask for forgiveness.

Suzanne:   What about you, Deon? What was fun for you?

Deon:   Like, waiting around, and us just laughing in between takes and just laughing in that situation and coming up with different ideas. And there was a lot of funny stuff that we didn’t use.

Kelley:   Oh, yeah.

Deon:   So, it was just fun creating all these different scenarios. You know, it was great.

Kelley:   Deon’s improv, it was so hard for me to keep a straight face [with] the stuff that he was saying to me on the steps. We could just cut a whole series of all of the stuff that he shouted out of that car, because we couldn’t put it all in there, but he was hilarious.

Suzanne:   That was all improv, that whole part?

Deon:   Yeah.

Suzanne:   Okay, and I was told the movie will be on BET, will it be in theaters as well, or just on BET?

Kelley:   It’s going to be in theaters at Film Festival. So, we’re going to Gina Davis’s Film Festival next week, and we’re going to be screening there in the theater on August 5th and virtually as well. So, if you want to check it out at the Bentonville Film Festival, but other than that, yeah, we’re going to be premiering on BET Her on August 7th.

Suzanne:   Okay, good. And do you have any other films that you’re working on, besides this one? Like are you’re thinking of one, or are you working on one already?

Kelley:   Well, we have one that we wrote together. It’s what we actually started with as writing partners, and then this one kind of just wiggled its way in again, but we have a script that we finished. It’s a pure comedy. It’s hilarious; it’s so hilarious. And it’s now with Macro, the producers of Judas and the Black Messiah, Sorry to Bother You, Mudbound, and all of that stuff. So, we’re working on getting that out, but Deon has a lot of other great things [coming] in.

Suzanne:   Yes, and that was my next question. You’re still on Black-ish and Grown-ish, right?

Deon:   Yes.

Suzanne:   And you have you have some other movies coming out. Have you started shooting Black-ish season eight yet?

Deon:   We start next week. We had a second table read yesterday, I think. And yeah, we start next week.

Suzanne:   Oh, cool. And you have some other movies coming out? Is there anything particular that you wanted to tell us about?

Deon:   Yeah, a movie on Netflix called The Harder They Fall. It’s coming out soon, probably in the fall. Yeah, that’s just about it right now.

Suzanne:   I watched some of your Netflix comedy special last night, that was funny.

Deon:   Thank you so much Yeah, I’m working on a new one now.

Suzanne:   Oh cool. And who would you say your comedy influences are?

Deon:   So many, from Eddie Murphy to Richard Pryor to [unintelligible] to Ellen DeGeneres to Steven Wright to George Carlin.

Suzanne:   Cool. That’s great. That’s probably why I thought it was funny. I grew up listening and watching all those people.

Deon:   Yeah, I [was influenced by] all of them.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

movie posterHere’s your chance to get in on one of the few critically lauded, award-winning feature films at the upcoming gems premiering on BET HER in a couple weeks, Saturday, August 7th at 7pm ET/PT, 6pm CT.  Filmmakers KELLEY KALI and DEON COLE (Black-ish star) talk about their critically lauded film, I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking).  The 2018 Oscar, DGA winning young director, Kelley Kali, also stars in this Pandemic-era indie along with Deon and we have them available together next Tuesday morning, JulyKelley Kali 27th (Pacific).

The important movie, which incorporates humor into the most important issue of our recent times, is as refreshing of a film seen you’ll see emphasizing a reason this early 30 year-old filmmaker has been kept an eye on by the biggest names in Hollywood over the past year. Add to the attraction the riveting Deon Cole, a truly authentic cast and a gifted crew to a compelling story which addresses issues within often marginalized communities by using the art of filmmaking to create dialogue and action towards positive change.

Deon Cole as Chad in "I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking)"Filmmaker Kelley Kali, one of the breakout talents in Hollywood, won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Film for her narrative short, Lalo’s House, and brought in  a number of talented filmmakers including co-director Angelique Molina, fellow USC Cinema School graduate Roma Kong as well as award-winning producer Capella Fahoome. Kelley developed the plot line of I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking)”  looking around Los Angeles as the Covid crisis started to shutter businesses, diminish earnings and jeopardize so many single parents ability to pay rent and feed their families late last spring.  The storyline centers on a recently widowed mother who becomes homeless and convinces her 8-year-old daughter that they are only camping for fun while she works to get them off the streets.Variety Review

As the whole crew with this gem of a film rise to the apex of both Hollywood and the What To Watch at 2021 film festivals, we are certain coverage in wide-reaching outlets is a win-win. To see how brilliant some of the press has been, scroll belowto read a couple rave reviews or click on this recent interview with Kelley and Deon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGpn7KPsUcs

Read the review: https://tinyurl.com/ImFineVariety

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SXSW Review

Read the review: https://tinyurl.com/ImFineScreenDaily

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Deon Cole and Kelley Kali

Interview with Max Talisman

TV Interview!

Actor/writer/director Max Talisman

Interview with Max Talisman of the movie “Things Like This” by Suzanne 4/13/21

It was so nice to speak with Max. He has a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I think he’ll do great things!

Suzanne:   So, what’s your film about?

Max:   So, the film is about two guys with the same name, who fall in love. Basically, what I’ve noticed is that every movie that has to do with gay characters is all about the coming out part of a gay life, but there’s so much that happens after that. So, that’s literally just the beginning of a gay person’s life as someone in the community. I just noticed that there were no movies like that, so I was like, “I have to write this. This is what I have to write. I have to write a movie about two men who fall in love where coming out just isn’t part of the story. It’s already happened.”

Suzanne:   So, they’re in their twenties, basically?

Max:   Yeah, they’re in their mid-twenties, and they’re just experiencing love and all the fears that come with falling in love.

Suzanne:   Okay, actually, that makes me think of another question. Had there been any movies about gay people in college?

Max:   I don’t think there have been. I think there have been a lot of – I mean, not a lot. There’s still not a lot of content for, you know, queer people. There’ve been movies about high school, with people coming out in high school. I can’t think of any gay people in college, especially not ones that have to do with post coming out.

Suzanne:   Right. Well, there’s your next movie.

Max:   Exactly.

Suzanne:   So, what made you want to become a writer and director?

Max:   I think it was just the past led me here. I’ve been a performer since I was very, very young, and a few years back I noticed that there weren’t a lot of roles for someone with my body type – I’m a plus size actor – and especially not the type of roles that I felt like I should be playing or I should be auditioning for. So, I decided that I should be writing them. I’m lucky that I have the ability to write, and I just decided to start writing the roles that I wanted to be playing.

Suzanne:   Okay. And had you done any shorter films before this or been been involved in film class? Anything like that?

Max:   No. I mean, I’ve been an actor, obviously, on multiple sets, TV and film, and I’ve learned while I’ve been there. Basically, the truth is that this movie is about telling the story of these two people falling in love. It’s not a technical film. It’s really about the story and the connection between these two people. So, I just I felt, after interviewing multiple directors and going through that, I just didn’t find someone who was able to tell the story in the same way that I knew I could.

Suzanne:   Okay, so you did interview other directors. Did you shadow anyone or anything like that?

Max:   No, I didn’t shadow anyone. I did interview other directors, but just like I said, at the end of the day, it felt like I needed to be the person to tell the story.

Suzanne:   Okay. And did did you learn a lot about directing while you were actually doing your movie?

Max:   So we haven’t – we’re filming in the fall.

Suzanne:   Oh, you’re not filming yet?

Max:   We’re filming this fall. We’re filming in September and October. So, I haven’t learned that much about filming yet through the film, because we haven’t done it yet, but I’m I’m ready to learn, and I’m open to everything.

Suzanne:   Okay, and so what was your preparation for writing the film? Did you just sit down and write? Did you have an outline? What did you do?

Max:   I’m someone who very much lets the story lead me wherever it feels like it needs to go. So, I didn’t have an outline. I just sat down, and it led me where it needed to. So, I wrote the first draft within a week, and the plot has stayed the same. Obviously, it’s been through hundreds and hundreds of edits since then, but the plot has remained the same since the first draft, and, yeah, I wrote the first draft within a week, and from there, it’s just became the film that it is now.

Suzanne:   Wow, that’s great. That’s working fast too.

Max:   One hundred percent.

Suzanne:   And had you done a lot of writing before, like, in school or just for fun or –

Max:   So, I’d written a television show, and I filmed a pilot. This was the first feature that I ever wrote, and just like I said, it kind of just, you know, flowed out of me. So, as soon as I started writing, it just felt unstoppable that I had to get it down.

Suzanne:   You have some great veteran TV and movie actors. Tell us about all the casting that you went through.

Max:   We have an insane cast. It’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty unreal. I mean, we have multiple Academy Award nominee Ryan Kinnon. She’s the first female to be nominated both in front and behind the camera. She’s an icon in every sense of the word, and Eric Roberts, who’s an Academy Award nominee, and is an icon himself. We have T-Boz, who’s one of the most famous musical artists of all time. I mean, it’s just, this cast is unbelievable, and it’s so exciting to get to work with these absolute supernovas. So, I’m just beside myself. We really just got lucky during COVID, because people were able to read things, which is, you know, a side part of this horrible, horrible thing that we’ve been going through, but we have been able to get scripts to people, and they’ve been able to take a look at it in a way that they weren’t before. So, that’s definitely changed. It’s made us able to cast this movie with people like Jasmin Savoy Brown, who’s been a friend of mine for a while, but because of her having time to read the script, now she’s a part of this feature. And she’s so excited to make it, and I’m so excited to meet with her. And Charlie Tahan, who’s from Ozark, he was in Super Dark Times with me, and we’ve been friends since, and he was the first person I went to with the script, and he’s so excited to make this film. So, it’s just been a journey. I’m creating this incredible cast, like, with Terry Moore, who’s one of the last living stars of a Hollywood Golden Age. And Willem, who’s one of the most famous [unintelligible] in this entire world, like we are just beside ourselves with this cast. It’s unreal.

Suzanne:   Yeah, it’s a really great cast. So, what else was involved in getting your film made? I mean, I know you haven’t shot it yet, but tell us about how you got started and all that. Financing and whatever else you had to do?

Max:   Yeah, well, actually it’s been extremely intense. Definitely getting it to the right people has been a journey. Getting it to people who believe in making a queer film, it’s intense. And it hasn’t been the easiest process, but it’s also been a process that now we’re working with the people we trust to make this film, and to make it right, and that’s definitely been lucky in the end. You know that what you want is to make the movie with the people who want to make it for exactly the kind of feature it is, but it’s definitely been a journey of getting in front of a lot of different people, and editing it and getting it in front of more people, but that’s kind of what it’s been like.

Suzanne:   That’s great. So, your shooting in the fall, and how long do you think shooting will take?

Max:   Yeah, so we’re planning for a twenty-eight day shoot. We’re planning for a twenty-eight day shoot, and we’re just really excited. We’ll be shooting in up in Canada, and we’re thrilled with everything that’s going on. So, yeah.

Suzanne:   And is there anything else you want to tell us about the film?

Max:   Just that I’m so excited to get it to everyone. It’s been a journey, like I said, to get this thing made, but now that we’re here ready to film, in pre-production, I’m just so thrilled, and I’m so happy. I think this is exactly the movie that people will want to see and need to see, just because love is universal, and the people falling in love are universal. And I’m just so thrilled to be able to tell this story with the cast and the team that we’ve built.

Suzanne:   Okay, and who would you say are your influences as far as writing and directing?

Max:   I mean, I think I take influence from a lot of different things I watched, definitely. I mean, I’ve been hugely influenced by the comedy of Tina Fey in 30 Rock, for sure. I mean, I watched that show so many times, and I definitely, in a lot of ways, write with her comedic beats. I read once that someone said, like, “It isn’t cliche,” I think it was Mindy Kaling said that it isn’t cliche to say that Tina Fey’s the influence for everyone, because there’s a reason that she is, and I agree with that. She’s so talented. She’s so gifted in comedy, and I’ve definitely been taking from her, like not taking from her, but being influenced by her and her writing. Then, there’re so many other filmmakers who I definitely have been influenced by, and I’ve been allowing myself through the last few years to be more influenced by it. Definitely Judd Apatow’s done a lot of work that has influenced me, especially Trainwreck by Amy Schumer, that has had a huge impact on me, and Bridesmaids, Kristen Wigg, that’s definitely influenced me. So, yeah, I’ve definitely been watching things, and I’ve been soaking them up as much as possible.

Suzanne:   Great, and so you mentioned mostly comedy people, so would you say that your movie is funny?

Max:   Oh, yeah. It’s a romantic comedy with a big emphasis on the comedy part. Yeah, definitely. I hope it’s funny, and yes it is, but, I mean, that’s for other people to decide, but it was written as a comedy.

Suzanne:   Great. And what about directing? Are there particular directors that you admire that you think you should be like, besides Judd Apatow?

Max:   Yeah, you know, it’s tough to like, rattle people off right away. I’m trying to think of specific people, but it’s just I watch a lot of romantic comedies these days, especially my favorite ones. I mean, obviously, Rob Reiner is a huge one, and I mean, I’m getting to work with his children. Jake Reiner, and Robby Reiner are both in this feature, and Jake is executive producing it as well. So, that’s a huge thing to be, you know, he’s really the father of modern romantic comedy, Rob Reiner. Obviously, he’s influenced me. When Harry Met Sally, Princess Bride, and now to be able to work with his kids and be able to create something for the new generation with them, I mean, that’s thrilling.

Suzanne:   Cool. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot trying to find names.

Max:   No worries.

Suzanne:   So, it’s probably a little early to ask you this, but do you have other projects that you’re thinking about for the future that you’re working on?

Max:   Yeah, so, actually, already we’re working through my my next feature, which is called Don’t Kiss a Werewolf Boy, and it’s an LGBTQI horror comedy, and I’m really, really excited to dive into that one, [unintelligible] because it’s very different from things like this. Obviously, it’s a horror comedy, but it’s genre bending. It has a lot of different influences, too, but that one’s super, super exciting.

Suzanne:   Is there gonna like some spoofing of things like Teen Wolf and I Was a Teenage Werewolf and things like that?

Max:   It’s not a spoof at all. It takes influences, but it’s really its own story. It doesn’t have to do with those.

Suzanne:   Okay, anything else?

Max:   No, with Werewolf, we’re in the very beginnings of casting it, getting it ready, and I’ll be filming it once we wrap things like this.

Suzanne:   Cool. So, you’ve already written it.

Max:   Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s been written years ago.

Suzanne:   Okay. Who would you cast if you had had your pick of people?

Max:   I’m not sure I can say that, because we’re literally in the process of casting people right now. So, I don’t want to jump the gun, but definitely we are talking to some people who I’m very excited about.

Suzanne:   Cool. Cool. I think the first – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. Did you ever see the old An American Werewolf in London?

Max:   I have seen it. Yes.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I think that was the first werewolf movie that was actually, you know, good and had good special effects and makeup and that kind of thing.

Max:   One hundred percent.

Suzanne:   Yeah. Well, cool. I look forward to seeing both of them.

Max:   Thank you. Thank you so much.

Here is the audio version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

Actor, singer, writer and creative force, Max Talisman is set to make his directorial debut in his upcoming romantic comedy, THINGS LIKE THIS. The film stars Charlie Tahan (Netflix’s “Ozark”), Eric Roberts (THE DARK KNIGHT) and Miles Tagtmeyer (DISNEY DESCENDANTS: SCHOOL OF SECRETS), and tells a story of two guys who fall in love and while everything seems to align for them to be together, they begin to question fate as they encounter an obstacle.
Growing up in Washington DC, Max started performing in 3rd grade. He participated in musical theatre, including productions at the Musical Theatre Center (MTC), one of the leading performing arts education organizations for young people in the Washington DC area. It was the moment when he played the 2nd lead role in the through-composed musical, “Caroline, or Change” that he felt theatre was his calling.
When his senior year of high school began, Max made the courageous move to NYC to follow his passion for theatre. He joined the Broadway Artists Alliance, a professional training academy for promising young musical theatre performers right in the heart of New York City.After living in the big apple for 5 years, he decided to make his way to Hollywood, California. He’s appeared in The Orchard’s SUPER DARK TIMES, TBS’ “Search Party” and NBC’s “The Blacklist”.
Overcoming Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (LCPD) and anxiety, this rising star doesn’t let these challenges prevent him from enjoying his life. He has a keen love for sports and when he’s not watching games on TV or at stadiums, he keeps up with the standings/scores on teams such as the LA Lakers, the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles. He is also an avid tennis and ping pong player, crediting Serena Williams as his role model.
 
Consumed by wanderlust with a curiosity for cultures, Max has traveled all around the world from Argentina to Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, Italy, England, Iceland, Greece, Africa and Costa Rica.
With a life of travel, art, and hobbies, Max hopes to incorporate all his current and future life experiences in all he does. He hopes to be a role model for the LGBTQ community and break stereotypical barriers/roles in Hollywood.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Actor/writer/director Max Talisman

Interview with Elizabeth Blake-Thomas

TV Interview!

Filmmaker Elizabeth Blake-Thomas

Interview with Elizabeth Blake-Thomas of the film “Evie Rose” on Amazon Prime by Suzanne 4/13/21

This was an interview via email, so there is no audio or video. I enjoyed watching her short film on Amazon, and I look forward to her upcoming feature film.

Suzanne: You were a theater director, I see. Did you work in a particular city?

Elizabeth: I was based in the center of England, but we toured around. I enjoyed taking theater to smaller places that didn’t have easy access to theater or the arts.

Suzanne: How did you get involved in making films?

Elizabeth: My daughter has been in the film and TV industry since a young age, so when she was about 11 or 12 I thought I could help her by producing a short film that she could star in. After we completed that film, “Broken Wings”, which is available online, I realized I had the knowledge to make more, as well as try my hand at directing instead of just producing. On top of that, the whole experience was so enjoyable, working with my daughter and creating art, it just made sense. It reminded me of being a theater director. So I made the conscious decision to get into the film industry myself, writing something with my daughter to have her star in. From there, the projects just kept flowing.

Suzanne: I enjoyed your movie “Evie Rose” on Amazon. I assume that’s what’s referred to as a “short film”?

Elizabeth: That’s correct, a film that’s less than an hour. Some festivals qualify a short as being no more than 50 minutes. The Academy says no more than 40. A short film’s length though can greatly vary, like features. To me, it’s about what length helps tell a story most effectively. If it takes 2 minutes or 2 hours, it doesn’t matter. As long as it best serves the story.

Suzanne: Are there any plans to expand it into a full-length film?

Elizabeth: All of my shorts have this potential. I let things happen organically to tell the story of Evie Rose as best I saw fit, so I need to give this film time to breathe as a short before making any drastic changes. I need to see what happens this year first. I’m currently waiting to hear back from several festivals on the short, which could dramatically change the next course of the film.

Suzanne: Do you know yet where “Will You Be My Quarantine” will be shown (which network or streaming service)?

Elizabeth: No official announcement yet, but it is being pitched to all the major platforms. It really is a fantastic, fun, sweet movie. Something we all really need right now.

Suzanne: Is it finished?

Elizabeth: Yes, it is. All original music has been placed, all visual effects are finalized, and I’ve watched it through thoroughly. I’m very proud of it.

Suzanne: Will this be another short film, or full-length?

Elizabeth: Feature length film.

Suzanne: Can you tell us what it’s about?

Elizabeth: Dating in the pre-Covid world was hard for people, endlessly swiping trying to find “the one”. Once quarantine hit, this became even harder. Swiping was easy, sitting on your couch in your PJs, but meeting anyone in person was impossible. “Will You Be My Quarantine?” is a heartwarming, yet comical, story about finding real love in tricky circumstances, getting to know someone for who they truly are and finding an authentic, genuine connection.

Film Logline: Vanessa has always had trouble in the dating world, never mind now being confined to her home. She soon discovers just how much you can get away with dating via webcam, but is the love she feels true or only a distorted version of reality?

Suzanne: Anything you can tell us about how it was developed?

Elizabeth: It was based on my real experiences during the start of quarantine, when I came to the realization that dating could no longer happen as it did before. How was I going to meet people? Online meetings and dates began and I realized I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could show only the bits of me I wanted that person to see. I could have a nice top on, but baggy sweatpants just off screen. My hair could be greasy, but they’d never know! Which led to my idea of having a fun, relatable romcom about a new couple that are not being truthful with each other. Highlighting how dating online can only show us so much, and raising the important question of, “How can we truly find someone and something that’s real, if we aren’t honest?”

Suzanne: What about the casting process?

Elizabeth: Most of the cast are friends or close contacts, who I immediately knew were perfect for their roles. After everyone accepted, I was thrilled, for I truly feel the entire cast is stellar and represents such a diverse group of individuals that the audience can relate to. Having that proper representation was key for me, as we all have been affected by this “Great Pause”. I wanted everyone who watches the film to be able to connect with someone that looks just like them or relate to something a character does that they too did while stuck at home. Casting this project was fun and honestly a breeze since each actor was ideal for their role.

Suzanne: I’ve interviewed Eddie McClintock a few times before, and he’s very funny as well as quite a good dramatic actor. Which side does he get to show off in this movie?

Elizabeth: In this film he shows off his fantastic comedic side. He totally embraced this character and brought something even more than I could have imagined. He is a true artist.

Suzanne: Joe LoCicero was just recently on “The Bold and the Beautiful.” His character was killed off on that show, and now there’s a murder mystery. What is his character like in your movie?

Elizabeth: More details on his character once the film is released, but I can say that Joe was so adorable. I auditioned him originally for a smaller role, but he impressed me so much with his tape, I gave him a bigger one. He is very talented, and I can’t wait to put him in my next feature film.

Suzanne: Were you a fan of Jodie Sweetin’s before she was cast?

Elizabeth: Who wasn’t a fan of “Full House?” Jodie is the perfect girl-next-door and such a talent. She can play all levels of characters and everyone connects to her, making her perfect for this film’s role.

Suzanne: Tell us about your business and website – medicinewithwords.com How did it come about?

Elizabeth: I’ve always been a storyteller. Across mediums, across time zones. When I wanted to make films on my own timeline, I created my entertainment company Mother & Daughter Entertainment. I’ve also always mentored, guided and helped people. During the Covid Great Pause, I was able to put some time into really finessing who I am and what I want to do. The clarity I was given enabled me to create Medicine with Words, a “spring cleaning” journey of your mind, encompassing everything from your emotions and surroundings, to your purpose and desires. Through guided studies of intention and reflection using pen to paper, meditation, stories and your senses, my “stars” (clients) learn to lead a more purposeful, contented, peaceful life. They learn to free themselves from the unnecessary noise that the world muddles their mind with, and start living intentionally, without fear. I already have many “stars” that I help guide to transform their lives. Think of it as yoga for the mind. It is something very unique and special to me and I feel very blessed that I have been given the tools to share this.

Suzanne: How did you become a philanthropist, and why did you pick human trafficking as your focus?

Elizabeth: It was a natural progression through my company Mother & Daughter Entertainment. Our motto “making content that matters” is something my team and I believe strongly in. The cause of human trafficking awareness actually just found me. Upon meeting an individual who escaped being trafficked and hearing her story, I was inspired to write and produce a short film called UNSEEN. This film was purely made to distribute for free and educate others of the potential lure tactics of traffickers, especially those used through social media. The film was viewed by the non-profit Awareness Ties and I became their Ambassador for Human Trafficking Awareness, working with them and others to raise awareness and end human trafficking. Seeing the assistance that storytelling can bring to philanthropic work, I now strive to have an impact with everything I put my time into. This also includes mentoring fellow filmmakers and storytellers, especially women. It’s important to me to give back.

Suzanne: Reading your bio and your website, I was very impressed. What you’ve achieved is amazing. Most people would be too scared to do half the things you’re doing, with the major changes in your life. What age were you, if you don’t mind my asking, when you left the UK and came to the US?

Elizabeth: It is a scary thing to do. I was 32 when I first experienced LA and then was 34 when I officially moved over from the UK. I won’t sugar coat it. It wasn’t easy. It cost me my marriage; it took all my strength to continue on this path. But I did it for my daughter, and then ended up finding my calling in LA as a storyteller as well. I have not one single regret about making these changes. In regards to my industry achievements, I like to use the phrase “filmmaking with fear”, as sometimes you just have to go for it and live each day intentionally.

Suzanne: How long after that did you get into either theater or film?

Elizabeth: I was a theater director from aged 16, running my theater company in the UK for almost 20 years. I became a film director 5 years ago once in LA. In just the past 5 years, I feel I have completed a huge amount in the film industry, pushing myself to make things happen no matter what others around me said or did.

Suzanne: Do you have a favorite type of movie or TV series you like to watch for fun?

Elizabeth: I love procedurals. My brain is constantly thinking of new storytelling ideas from the moment I wake up at 4 or 5am. When I feel I need my brain to turn off, a procedural is the perfect outlet that allows me to sit mindlessly and still know what’s going to happen. They are so formulaic with the story that they are easy to follow along and often the story is wrapped up with a perfect bow by the end of the 45 minutes. A different story each episode, but with characters I can still love and enjoy seeing snippets of their lives.

Suzanne: What is your next project?

Elizabeth: I have a couple of fantastic feature films that are in pre-production. I will be filming both this year. My environmental short documentary Consume As Little As Possible will also be released in a few months, and is something I believe we all need to watch. My book “Filmmaking Without Fear” is set to release later this month. My podcast and featurette of the same name are already available to stream, documenting my career thus far, as well as storytelling tips and tricks

MORE INFO:

Elizabeth Black-Thomas directing a film.

ELIZABETH BLAKE-THOMAS is a British award-winning storyteller and philanthropist based
in Los Angeles, having recently directed her latest feature film during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will You Be My Quarantine? is a romcom starring Full House/Fuller House star Jodie Sweetin
and is set to release in 2021. Elizabeth’s recent film Evie Rose, starring Oscar-nominated actress
Terry Moore, is premiering on Christmas Eve 2020. Elizabeth is the founder and resident
director of entertainment company Mother & Daughter Entertainment, whose motto is “Making
Content That Matters”, putting focus on each project starting a conversation amongst viewers.
Through MDE, Elizabeth established the MD Foundation Initiative, a campaign to mentor and
employ undiscovered filmmakers through fellow philanthropic pledges.
An Official Ambassador of Awareness Ties for Human Trafficking, Elizabeth hopes to raise
more awareness to the horrific nature of human trafficking and help put a stop to it. Her award-
winning short film UNSEEN, which addresses the role technology plays in the facilitation of
child trafficking, is being used to educate children on the dangers of lure tactics. A regular on
panels at Sundance, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festival, Elizabeth mentors wherever
possible, ensuring she sends the elevator back down to all other female storytellers.
Directing Showreel Awareness Ties Ambassador Page

The Self-Made Triumph of Director, Storyteller and Philanthropist, Elizabeth Blake-Thomas

Single mum of a 10-year-old, 6 suitcases total for the both of them, packed and headed from the UK to LA. That was 8 years ago.

Cut to now, living happily on a houseboat in sunny Redondo Beach, California, a successful 18-year-old daughter who just starred as one of the leads in the latest Disney+ movie Secret Society of Second Born Royals, and a fruitful, self-made directing career. To top it off, Elizabeth just wrapped her latest feature film, a romcom, safely shot during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Elizabeth and her daughter Isabella are a resourceful mother-daughter team, who in light of wanting to forge their own path in the LA industry rather than waiting around for a big break to be handed to them, founded a company together, Mother & Daughter Entertainment. Through MDE, they develop, write, produce, and direct everything from feature films to short films to episodics. Isabella even stars in a few. Their team is on fire, with over 12 projects under their belt in the last four years, finishing off 2019 with an award-winning short film UNSEEN about child trafficking and educating kids on the dangers of lure tactics. Just in 2020, they have filmed two additional feature films, created three pilots, completed a documentary and created and written pitches and teasers for several other projects.

Against all odds, they have become a successful team in LA.

Even COVID couldn’t stop them from creating. Following SAG’s safety protocols, they worked together and completed their latest romcom, Will You Be My Quarantine?, starring Full House and Fuller House alum Jodie Sweetin and David Lipper. The entire cast and crew safely tested throughout filming, social distanced and wore masks. Many thought it would be impossible to get the industry back on its feet, but Elizabeth pushed forward and succeeded through her resourcefulness and inspiring tenacity.

During COVID and 2020, Elizabeth has also completed and released the first season of her new podcast “Filmmaking Without Fear”. The podcast episodes are available to stream on all platforms (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify).  Her book of the same name, documenting her success in the industry from ground zero up, is also due to be published end of the year. Elizabeth also directed and produced a movie titled Evie Rose, starring Oscar-Nominated actress Terry Moore (Come Back, Little Sheba), which is set to screen on Christmas Eve.

All of this has been accomplished by Elizabeth and Isabella whilst living on their 34ft boat with their Maltese Chai!

If anyone can prove LA is possible, Elizabeth can!

Take it from Elizabeth’s friend and mentor Sean McNamara, Emmy-nominated Producer, Director, and Co-Chairman of Brookwell McNamara Entertainment, “I’ve honestly watched in awe, and even used several of Elizabeth’s excellent ideas. She has actually taught me a thing or two, even though I’ve been in this industry as a director/producer for over thirty-five years. Elizabeth is always bringing fresh new approaches and ideas to filmmaking that are inspirational for me as a fellow filmmaker.”

Elizabeth’s drive to learn as she went and create her own opportunities, forged her path to success. LA is the land of dreamers and Elizabeth Blake-Thomas is proof that you can do whatever you set your mind to and accomplish your goals.

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Elizabeth Blake-Thomas directing her film.